8 episodes

Many people and countries are now beginning to evaluate the success of their lives or society not purely in terms of money or gross domestic product. The currency of traditional economics - preference satisfaction - has fallen into question as an ethical value. The global financial crisis is seen by many as a failure of capitalism. Some countries have proposed a Gross Happiness Index to replace GDP as the measure of the productivity of a country. What is of intrinsic value in human lives? How should we measure how good a human being's life is? What is happiness and what constitutes well-being? What can we learn from religion, philosophy, economics and the cognitive sciences about happiness and well-being? Are happiness and well-being relative to culture? What roles do pleasure and happiness play in ethics? Should we aim to maximise happiness and pleasure? How should the views of people with disability be incorporated into an ethics of well-being? Jointly organised by The Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education (Tokyo), The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs (New York) and Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics (University of Oxford) this conference will seek to understand the nature and value of happiness and well-being in practical ethics.

2013 Carnegie-Uehiro-Oxford Ethics Conference: Happiness and Well-Being Oxford University

    • Education

Many people and countries are now beginning to evaluate the success of their lives or society not purely in terms of money or gross domestic product. The currency of traditional economics - preference satisfaction - has fallen into question as an ethical value. The global financial crisis is seen by many as a failure of capitalism. Some countries have proposed a Gross Happiness Index to replace GDP as the measure of the productivity of a country. What is of intrinsic value in human lives? How should we measure how good a human being's life is? What is happiness and what constitutes well-being? What can we learn from religion, philosophy, economics and the cognitive sciences about happiness and well-being? Are happiness and well-being relative to culture? What roles do pleasure and happiness play in ethics? Should we aim to maximise happiness and pleasure? How should the views of people with disability be incorporated into an ethics of well-being? Jointly organised by The Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education (Tokyo), The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs (New York) and Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics (University of Oxford) this conference will seek to understand the nature and value of happiness and well-being in practical ethics.

    Well-being in a Flux

    Well-being in a Flux

    Standard forms of desire-based theories of well-being claim that what is better for you is what you prefer. But how shall we decide whether one life is better for you than another when your preferences change across these lives? Standard forms of desire-based theories of well-being claim that what is better for you is what you prefer. But how shall we decide whether one life is better for you than another when your preferences change across these lives? Perhaps you will prefer a life as a parent to a childless life,if you become a parent, but prefer a childless life to a life as a parent, if you remain childless. Which preferences should determine the comparative well-being of the two lives? In my talk, I shall argue that an innocent-looking answer to this question will generate an inconsistency. I shall also show that this negative result applies to many of the happiness theories of well-being that have become popular in recent years. Finally, I shall argue that the solution is to deny that what is better for you is what you prefer but maintain that what is good for you is what you favour and what is bad for you is what you disfavour. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 28 min
    Well-Being for Autists: Some Conceptual and Methodological Issues

    Well-Being for Autists: Some Conceptual and Methodological Issues

    The aim of this paper is to provide some concrete guidelines for understanding and measuring the well-being of individuals affected by autism. I discuss the use of psychometric tests to understand and measure the well-being of autists. There is an astounding lack of both empirical and philosophical research on well-being for individuals with autism. Certainly, the heterogeneity of this population makes it difficult to say something univocal. This, however, is not enough of a reason not to try to make at least some progress in this area. The ultimate aim of this paper is to provide some concrete guidelines for understanding and measuring the well-being of individuals affected by autism. This will be accomplished in large part by considering the applicability to individuals affected by autism of psychometric tools such as the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) and other affective measures of well-being currently applied to normal populations. This task will in turn take us into a quick discussion of the philosophical significance and general limitations of these psychometric tools, and a more detailed discussion of the specific limitations that arise when these tools are applied to autistic populations. As part of the latter discussion, I examine a number of classes of cases, going from the class of individuals on the spectrum that are similar in many key respects to individuals outside the spectrum, to the class of individuals on the spectrum that are not able to understand and-or answer any of the questions involved by these tools. I conclude with a discussion of how to understand and measure the well-being of individuals in the latter class. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 35 min
    Benefitting Friends and Idealized Theories of Well-Being

    Benefitting Friends and Idealized Theories of Well-Being

    In this paper I give an overview of the kind of idealized theory I endorse and describe the conditions under which a person can appropriately discount, ignore or override a friend's own conception of what's good for him or her. Idealized theories of well-being take what is good for a person to depend in some way on that person's ideal self (her ideal values or preferences, for example) rather than her actual self. There are good reasons to favor theories of well-being that include idealization in this way, but idealization also creates some problems. One problem is that it is difficult to know how to help people, because these theories imply that benefitting people might require ignoring their own views about what's good for them and treating people in ways that go against their own preferences, values or thoughts about their good is tricky. For one thing, we don't necessarily have better information about a beneficiary's ideal self than he or she does. For another thing, acting against a person's preferences, etc. can itself cause various kinds of harm. In this paper I explore this problem in the context of friendship and I describe the conditions under which a person can appropriately discount, ignore or override a friend's own conception of what's good for him or her. I proceed by first giving an overview of the kind of idealized theory I endorse and then turning to the question of how to think about helping our friends. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 32 min
    Past Desires and Well-being

    Past Desires and Well-being

    Some desires are conditional on their persistence and some are not. I aim to show that desire fulfilment theorists should reject the view that fulfilment of some of a person's past desires for the present contribute to her well-being. Some desires are conditional on their persistence and some are not. Call the former 'Pconditional desires' and the latter 'P-unconditional desires.' There are desires that a person had in the past but has already lost. Call these desires 'past desires'. There are past desires that have as their object what happens at the present. Call them 'past desires for the present.' Some desire fulfillment theorists of well-being, such as H.E. Baber, take the view that fulfillment of a person's past P-unconditional desires for the present contributes to her well-being. The aim of this presentation is to show that desire fulfillment theorists are forced to reject this view. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 27 min
    Well-being and Desire

    Well-being and Desire

    I address the question of what constitutes an addition to well-being. Perhaps under specifiable conditions what someone desires is pivotal to what should be done, even if fulfilment of the desires does not add to that person's well-being. My paper will start by addressing the question of what constitutes an addition to well-being. Like Joseph Raz and many others, I am persuaded by various examples that the fulfilment of a person's desires, as such, does not constitute an addition to well-being. After criticising Raz's account of well-being, I turn to the question of whether, even if the fulfilment of a person's desires does not as such constitute an addition to well-being, other people are nevertheless morally required to do what that person desires. Under specifiable conditions, what someone desires is pivotal to what should be done, even when the fulfilment of the person's desires does not constitute an addition to that person's (or anyone else's) well-being. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 30 min
    The Certain Intrinsic Desirability of Pleasure

    The Certain Intrinsic Desirability of Pleasure

    I argue that intrinsically desiring to feel pleasure makes it certain that pleasure is intrinsically desirable for you, which it could not do if there is a non-natural, irreducible reason to desire pleasure for its own sake. In his Utilitarianism J. S. Mill (in)famously argues that 'the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable is that people do actually desire it'. Following G. E. Moore, many have thought that Mill here commits a 'naturalistic fallacy'. I shall rather side with Mill and argue that the fact that you intrinsically desire to feel pleasure makes it certain that pleasure is intrinsically desirable for you, which it could not do if the latter fact entailed that there is a non-natural, irreducible reason to desire pleasure for its own sake. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

    • 24 min

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